Newberry’s Oakland Tennis Center was recently honored with the Parks Excellence Award for the population category of 30,000 and under. The award was presented November 14 by the South Carolina Recreation and Parks Association at their annual awards luncheon in Greenville.

City Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director, Scott Sawyer said the department applied for the award in June of this year.

“We knew the Oakland Tennis Center project was an excellent renovation of an existing park, but to receive state recognition as the best in our population class is tremendous,” Sawyer said.

From the beginning of the Oakland Tennis Center project, Sawyer said that city staff had the goal of not only building a tennis center, but to build a tennis program.

Formerly home to city football, baseball and softball programs, Oakland Park, he said needed a facelift as it was approaching 50 years old.

The $1.6 million project was financed without any taxpayer dollars. Sawyer said the city benefited from the nearby Oakland Mill renovations as part of a Multi-County Industrial Park designation, as well as hospitality and accommodations fund and economic development monies. A public-led fundraising campaign also brought in over $100,000.

Because of a partnership between the city and Newberry College, the college’s tennis teams not only call the facility their new home, but Mark Gardiner, head tennis coach also serves as the tennis center’s Director of Tennis, or Pro.

The facility features six hard courts and three hybrid clay courts with LED lights, restrooms and a pro shop.

Gardiner said they have had nothing but rave reviews on the new complex, especially the hybrid clay tech courts and the facility’s state of the art lighting.

“We look forward to growing our programs for years to come,” he said.

Sawyer said they hope the entire community takes advantage of the opportunity to enjoy playing on the courts.

“Tennis is a great, lifelong activity that can contribute to better overall health and wellness,” he said.

City Manager Matt DeWitt said the addition of the tennis center has added an active option for residents in which to partake and that they couldn’t be happier with the response they have received from the community thus far.

“If you haven’t come out to see them at the tennis center, please do,” DeWitt said.

More information on Oakland Tennis Center and programming can be found at www.oaklandtenniscenter.com.

 Scott Sawyer, director of parks, recreation and tourism (left) along with Mark Gardiner, tennis director (right) after receiving the 2018 Parks Excellence Award on behalf of Oakland Tennis Center.